A Dream Come True!

A decade ago, The Power of Acknowledgment was published (© 2006 IIL Publishing) and many unpredicted “miracles” began to occur almost immediately, once I was given the assignment as the book’s author, to lead webinars and conduct training sessions for IIL on this important soft skills Leadership topic. Participants came from around the globe, and reported transformation in all aspects of life, sometimes reporting breakthroughs even during a session I was conducting. But one of the biggest long-term miracles and “wins” occurred when Patricia Rife-Beavers, Ph.D., Collegiate Professor, PMAN Program University of Maryland University College Graduate School, somehow received a copy of the book on her desk. No one even knows or remembers how it got there, but it was a perfect “landing.” Dr. Rife-Beavers read it, and immediately made it required reading by the UMUC students in the Graduate Program in Project Management, for the various sections of its Project Communications courses. I tracked her down and we spoke about how important this message was for adult learners, people who were for the most part already in the workforce. UMUC is an outstanding example of the huge success of online learning and Graduate School degree programs..

So years went by, and from time to time, Dr. Rife-Beavers and other professors teaching the course would send me questions from the students about the book, and we decided that webinars offered to all of those in the courses would be a great next step. It was utterly delightful to teach those who were already totally onboard with the power of acknowledgment, just from reading the book. One student reported that it was the best “textbook” he had ever read — and I had to laugh with pleasure. The “textbook” is 112 pages, easy to read and according to readers, totally transformational. Many of the students insisted on calling me Dr. Umlas, and even when I corrected them, they said “Okay, Dr. Umlas.” With permissions from several students, I got to read papers written by them about the book, with references to this work and others that touched on the importance of the message. What an amazing experience for this author!

Then last year, Dr. Rife introduced me to Sylvia Henri-Wonasue, Director of UMUC Multicultural Training and Programming, Office of Diversity and Equity, and she invited me to lead a Grateful Leadership Keynote to celebrate Women’s History Month! What a pleasure! The event, which was presented in partnership with the University System of Maryland Women’s Forum and Women in Maryland Higher Education, was amazing. About 150 people filled the room, which was festively decorated. Beforehand, I had told Sylvia that IIL was going to present Dr. Patricia-Rife Beavers with one of its rare IIL Acknowledgment Ambassador Awards (this was only the 9th one awarded in the past decade). You as readers can take a look at the award below, which I was totally delighted to present to a unique individual  who so fully embraced this message. She has had it truly take root in thousands of students’ educations, workplaces and lives. IIL’s gratitude toward her is huge and ongoing. She has never let it go…not for a moment, even in the face of many academic challenges and reorganizations. In response to receiving the award, Dr. Rife-Beavers said:

                  “Many, many sincere and humble thank you’s for this recognition.  The Graduate School PMAN638 “Project Communications Management” courses have 150 enrolled each semester x three semesters a year: we are hence averaging approximately 450 readers of The Power of Acknowledgment each year since 2007!  I am a truly “grateful” leader of these powerful managerial student leaders completing their PMAN Masters Degrees worldwide via UMUC online 12 week courses.”

What I was totally unprepared for was having Dr. Javier Miyares, President of UMUC, come to the session, sit at a table right in front of me, even laugh at my occasionally “funny” stories, and then present me with a UMUC Appreciation Award! It was an amazing day, and the sharing by the attendees was inspirational. This was indeed a dream come true — for our committed educational partners who believe so sincerely in the power of this message….for IIL…and most certainly for me. Here’s to many more decades of working together to create a state of appreciation and acknowledgment throughout the world.!


Judy Umlas Presenting President Javier Miyares with an autographed copy of Grateful Leadership after accepting the UMUC Appreciation award from him.

Certificate of Appreciation


Judy Umlas presenting Dr. Patricia Rife-Beavers with the Acknowledgment Ambassador award.


Attendees seated for the Women’s Forum


Judy gets “comfy” interviewing Sylvia Henri-Wonasue, who made it all happen, following the presentation”

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Judy Umlas and Dr. Patricia Rife-Beavers.